22 and 27 February 2017: Visit to Stanmore Country Park and Pear Wood 1: Stump clearance in preparation for flail cut of Central Glades

I reviewed and marked stumps in the rides and central glades

1. Dragon ride from south to north


Once we have removed the stumps that have already been dug up the flail and collection rake can come in behind the picnic table up to this line, which is just south of the old field boundary berm. The red line in the image below (17022212 annotated.jpg) shows the limit of where the flail can cut - a line from an obvious stump that we have not removed to a young oak just south of an ivy covered tree. This is approximately the point at which the dominant vegetation becomes, to the north of the line, nettles.


From this point up to where the ride opens out into the small glade I'll have to brush cut by hand. I determined the exact line beyond which one could use tractor flail and collect on 23rd August 2017. Looking south from within the grassy glade the ground is stump-free and even well into the narrower neck, as shown:


The boundary should run as a straight line from a small but full sized elm on the eastern side (image on left below) to a smaller elm on the western side with prominent branches leaning out at 45% (image on right below). This is roughly the limit of the nice grass, south of this line the vegetation (in 2017) is ranker and dominated by nettles and thistles.


All stumps within the grassy glade have been removed.

Up at the north end the area flailed and raked needs to have a straight edge on the west side, from one log pile to another, to avoid stumps as per image below (17022701 annotated):


Then at the north end of the grassed area stop at a line between the oak with lots of lower branches cut off and the birch, as per image below (17022702 annotated). Non-removed stumps begin on (ringed) and north of this line.




The section north of here may not need cutting every year; in 2016 Peter Elton did it with his DR Trimmer.

2. Gas main ride from west to east

South of the path will be left to be cut manually. North of the path has been cleared of stumps.

Note added in August 2017: There's a significant area at the Dragon Ride/Gas main ride junction that is full of stumps and will have to be cut manually. However east of a bramble barrier at the juntion the whole ride is, following local and TCV working parties in August/September 2017, pretty much clear. There's one large stump at the eastern end, close to the berm, that would have to be avoided.

3. Upper Blue Pond Field and the old trackway

The vast majority of the area was fully cleared of old stumps on Feb. 27th 2016. The stumps of the two trees that I felled in 2016 remain and will need to be avoided.

There are stumps in the triangle formed by two oaks and the waymarker bollard, as in image below (17022705 annotated). This should be done by hand. There are also some low stumps that I missed in the area marked X. I'd suggest letting the flail and rake have a go at area X and only if they complain doing it by hand.


There is a pair of stumps remaining on the north side - my backpack is sitting between them in the image below (17022704). They are pretty close to the ground and I'd suggest letting the flail and rake have a go at it and only if they complain doing the triangle formed by the three trees by hand. To the right of the image below is the stump of one of the trees felled in 2016; that is still there and will need to be avoided.


At the boundary between Upper Blue Pond Field and the old trackway the steep part of the berm (bottom left of the image below) should be done by hand; the slope is steep and there are several big stumps at the top of the berm, digging these out would damage the old field boundary. Image below is "17022201 annotated.jpg".


The whole of the old trackway open area can be flailed and raked, up to the line shown in the image below (17022210 annotated.jpg). This will damage a few ant nests at the southern end but they can be sacrificed.


4. John Hall's Field

All stumps in the area east of the north - south path have been removed so that the area up to the prominant oak (oak 48) can be flailed and raked.

All stumps in the area south of the east-west path have been removed so that the area up to the line in the image below ("17022211 annotated.jpg") - a line from the larger oak to a gorse bush - to be flailed and raked. This leaves the area with almost all the ant nests, north of the east-west path, to be cut by hand.

The southwest corner of John Hall's Field - where it says "flail and rake" in the image below - is pretty hummocky but all stumps have been removed. I hope that the flail will flatten it a bit and it can be raked, we'll just have to see.





Cut and collect, and brush cut and rake, August/September 2017

The cut was done on Wednesday August 30th. 6 Acre Field and the Northwest Grasslands were done with the big machine that cuts neatly and produces nice rows of arisings. The driver was Mick, phone 07850 032 814. (I have not checked the Northwest Grasslands yet). He also did Newton Farm and Roxbourne Rough the day before and is very expert and helpful. Then Oliver Peters came in the afternoon and cut the Central Glades with a smaller machine that did a less neat job. All the areas as listed above that I had hoped could be done by machine were indeed done, with no problems, although in some places where the ground was uneven the flails scalped the ground completely, leaving bare patches. The arisings from the Central Glades were collected later in the week and the result is not perfect but will do. When the TCV raked the brush cut areas on September 4th I raked up a few soggy bits on the mechanically cut area of John Hall's Field that had been left behind. If it had not rained during and after the cut the collection in the Central Glades might well have been better.

40 Acre Field was not cut. The cattle are doing a fine job of keeping the grass low.

I brush cut the northwest section of John Hall's Field on August 30th and September 2nd and the TCV raked the area on September 4th. I cut through the bracken at the northwest corner to create a smooth edge; this left a lot of bracken uncut at the corner, behind and to the right of the birch tree in this image:


I could cut this bracken patch at another time if there looks to be a danger of it becoming scrub.

I did not cut the northeast section of John Hall's Field, north of oak 48. Most of this area, dominated by ant nests, was short grass and herbs and did not need to be cut. The eastern margin of this area, where we recently cut down a bramble bush, does need to be cut sometime.

An area not described in any of the above is John's ride. In particular this widens to a small grassy field at its southern end,  which has in the past been cut by scythe by Peter Elton. This needs brush cutting some time to keep the bramble down, but it is not urgent.

I spoke to Mick on Friday September 8th. Collect has not yet been done at Northwest grasslands or Scout's Field - will do as soon as it is dry enough. However he has not and does not intend to collect from the Central Glades - "Oliver says there are stumps there". So in future if I continue with tractor cutting - and I think we have to, I cannot brush cut it all on my own - we should timetable an extra one or two working party days immediately after the cut - which means a few days after the August bank holiday - and rake the tractor cut areas by hand. However on September 19th I noticed that the amount of arisings on the Central Galdes was a lot less than I'd expect if there had been no collection at all. I emailed Oliver about this and he replied "Yeah Mick went in and collected what he could, he was having trouble with the uneven ground. He did as much as the machine aloud him without damaging it." The volunteer team on September 18th  raked up the worst of the wet grass left behind.

In contrast I noticed on September 26th 2017 that Cloisters Meadow had not been raked at all, I emailed Oliver about this, hopefully he will arrange collection before the weather turrns wet.